by: Daniel Johnson
Propagandhi are finally touring the US in support of their album “Supporting Caste”. If you’re not lucky enough to see them live, this release should give you an idea of what you’re missing!
With 12 new tracks plus a hidden bonus song to boot, Propagandist members hardly sound out of the loop of today’s music scene. In fact, if one were not familiar with the group, they could mistake them for four 20-year olds releasing their debut album. But don’t call them Panic! At the Disco or Fall Out Boy – they have been playing punk music since 1986! With a four year gap between their previous release, “Potemkin City Limits”, and this album, the group was able to master their performance on nearly every cut.
From the opening song, “Night Letters”, the band appears to be on a mission. Although the band may claim that this mission is to promote their activism of various causes, from veganism to denouncing imperialism, on the surface, this mission appears quite different.
Showing that they can still release a relevant record, in a genre that can be heavily youth dominated, drummer and founding member Jord Samolesky stands out in particular. On nearly every track, the band reaches some section of the song where they need to turn the volume and energy level up to 11, and Samolesky does an excellent job pounding his way through each song. This may be easiest to appreciate for punk fans on songs such as “This is Your Life,” which is one-minute of straight raw power and nothing else. His efforts on more complex cuts from the album such as “Dear Coach’s Corner”, in which he collaborates with bassist Todd Kowalski, are also noteworthy.
Of course, virtually any band that has been around for more than two decades needs a strong front man to stand behind. While perhaps not as impressive as Samolesky, singer-guitarist Chris Hannah has largely stood the test of time. Since releasing the group’s debut album over 15 years ago, Hannah’s voice has been remarkably preserved. Whereas the voices of other punk/metal singers such as Brian Johnson, Phil Anselmo and even Axl Rose have deteriorated somewhat, Hannah has little wear-and-tear on his vocals.
As a whole, “Supporting Caste” may be worth a listen for longstanding fans of the band. Yet, because of their ability to achieve a current sounding album, fans of punk and/or metal in the 2000s may also be pulled in by some of the album’s tracks.